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 Saint Awtel's Church History
 by Youssef
The first church
According to the Historian Aïn-Tourini, the church of Saint Awtel were built in 1470 (1). He refers this date to a text of the Patriarch Douaihi. We were not able to find any trace in the events of that year (2) in Douaihi's most important book. On the other hand, the historians (including AïnTourini) agree on saying that the construction of the church of Saint Awtel goes to the same period and on the same style as those of Saint Roumanos in Hadchit and another church in Madinat Al Ras (village now extinct). However the Patriarch Douaihi dates the construction of Saint Roumanos church to the year 1518 (3). Therefore, we conclude that the first church of Saint Awtel was built at the end of the Fifteenth Century.

At that time, there was a fight between the Maronites faithful to Rome and the Jacobites considered as heretics to the catholic doctrines. The Jacobites were installed on this side of the Qadisha Valley in Bqoufa, Qaryat Moussa (4) and in part of Bane according to Douaihi. The Maronites were installed in Ehden and probably also in Aïn Tourine, Kfarsghab, Bane and Qozhaya (?). Were Saint Awtel a church built for the faithful Maronites to prevent them from going to the nearby jacobite churches, as seems to imply the text of Douaihi previously quoted with regard to Saint Roumanos in Hadchit, the other jacobite stronghold in the Qadisha Valley at the end of the Fifteenth Century? (5)

The restoration
The restoration of the church, and probably its extension, were undertaken by Sheikh Abou-Youssef Elias in the last quarter of the Eighteenth Century. Work was completed in 1776-1778 as proven by the inscriptions still present above the main entrance of the church (6) and inside on the woodwork which separates the section of the men from that of the women. Work of extension is still visible on the Western part of the church above the main entrance.

The economic and demographic development that witnesses Kfarsghab at the end of the Eighteenth Century under the energetic action of Abou Youssef Elias obliged the latter to extend the only church of the village at that time to accomodate increasing numbers of churchgoers.
Saint awtel church

Saint awtel door

(1) A Concise History of Mount-Lebanon by Sheikh Antonios Abi Khattar of Ain Tourine - Editor Dar Lahd Khater - Beirut 1983 - p. 139
(2) Tarikh Al Azminah by the Patriarch Douaihi - 3rd version revised by the Abbot Boutros Fahad and published by Dar Lahd Khater (LP 166020- Beirut, Lebanon) p. 355-361
(3) op cit 2 - p. 397
(4) op cit 3 - Village between Bqoufa and Kfarsghab, now extinct
(5) op cit 3
(6) See on this website the translation of the Qarshouni inscription of Saint Awtel

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